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Many of us love jewelry for the extra shine it brings, whether it's made of gold, silver, or platinum. Whether you prefer show-stopping gems or minimalist metals, a strong piece can really take a look to the next level, and you're likely to be wearing it a lot if it was an investment and goes well with your closet. The only issue that comes with this is that it can lose its luster, and in the case of silver, tarnish. And when putting on your jewelry for the day, few things are more disappointing than realizing one of your go-to pieces doesn't look quite how it once did.
Fortunately, it's possible to clean your jewelry without always needing to take it to a professional, even when the pieces in question are delicate or expensive. With that in mind, we've rounded up different methods for cleaning your various types of jewelry, so you can keep your prized possessions looking as beautiful as they did the first day you got them. Read on for our simple yet effective guide on how to clean jewelry.
How to Maintain Your Jewelry
The best way to keep your jewelry shiny is to take care of it. “Take it off after arriving home and lay each piece on a flat surface, when not being worn," says Rachel Fix. You should also refrain from showering with any piece, no matter the material, and do your best to avoid interactions with lotions and perfumes, she says. This will maintain the shape and integrity of your jewelry, keeping it from getting dull and having caked-on grime from exposure to soap and dirt, among other things. If you follow these steps, you'll keep your pieces looking pristine for longer and make the cleaning process easier when it does become necessary.
Meet the Expert
Rachel Fix is the founder of R.Chiara and a Gemological Institute of America-certified jewelry designer, based in New York City.
How to Clean Silver Jewelry
If you do a quick Google search, you are sure to find lots of hacks and claims for removing tarnish from your silver jewelry, but you should be careful because some of these techniques may do more harm than good. It's best to stay away from products that have harsh chemicals or are abrasive. "Use a fresh cleaning cloth and massage gently," Fix advises. "Be careful of internet trends. Often the 'fun' way to do it is not the best for your jewelry."
Use products formulated with the material in mind, like Connoisseurs Silver Wipes, which can add shine to your silver while removing tarnish. You can also try a light microfiber wipe like Connoisseurs' jewelry polishing cloth, which is made with 100% natural cotton. Both of these options gently clean and leave behind sparkle, not scratches. Alternatively, you can go old school and keep it really simple. "A soft toothbrush, mild dish soap, and warm water method is your best friend," says Fix. And if you are cleaning silver-plated jewelry, be extra careful so you don't accidentally wear the finish away.
Mild Soap Method:
- Mix a couple of drops of dish soap, like Dawn liquid detergent, with warm water.
- Use a soft cloth and dip it into your soapy solution.
- Gently rub your silver jewelry, then rinse with cool water and dry and buff with another soft cleaning cloth.
How to Clean Gold Jewelry
A beautiful pair of hoop earrings or a set of bangles create a classic look that works for almost anywhere. And amazingly, keeping gold jewelry clean may even be easier than it is with your silver accessories. The dish soap method works great for dirt that may be lodged into the crevices of your bracelets, chains, and earrings. You can also use a baby toothbrush or soft toothbrush to dislodge any stubborn grime.
Dry your pieces with a soft cloth, and if you are washing smaller pieces over a sink, keep the drain closed or place a towel in the bottom of the sink. But if you've noticed your jewelry needs a refresh beyond cleaning off the dirt, Fix has an important reminder: “If gold needs to be polished, don’t DIY—take it to a professional jeweler."
How to Clean Jewelry with Stones
If you plan on cleaning jewelry with gemstones at home, you need to be very careful as you could damage or dislodge them. “Proceed with caution when trying to clean colored stones or pearls, as cleaners and chemicals often harm these more than they help," says Fix. “With diamonds, keep it simple—gently use a soft-bristled toothbrush, mild dish soap, and warm water to glaze over the diamond and all of its crevices, she says.
How to Clean Costume Jewelry
When it comes to costume jewelry, the less-expensive materials are more likely to deteriorate if you aren't careful, so you want to try and move quickly and make sure not to leave any moisture. Dish soap and water work well for removing grime, but make sure to rinse and dry thoroughly. But with this type of piece, you may want to just go with an alternative method, explains Fix: “A microfiber cloth or Q-tip will do the trick. Be cautious as you interact with fake jewelry."